“Diversity makes organizations smarter”

Joining us for this article is Natalie Warnert, an experienced SPC and Agile trainer who also set up the movement ‘Women in Agile’, a US-based non-profit agency that aims to increase the impact women can make on spreading Agile ways of working. We are welcoming her as a keynote speaker for Agile Munich. She offered to shed some light on her contribution.


“Several years ago, I was visiting several Agile conferences as an upcoming SPC where, at some point, I noticed how few women there were. The whole Agile movement in general was not exactly very diversely populated, I found: it had emerged from out of the software development world and so it was a predominantly white, thirty-something male crowd that was spreading Agile thoughts. That’s where the idea for Women in Agile popped up.


Successful growth

Since then, the organization has doubled in size, so we must be doing something right. Today we are mostly facilitating the work of about twenty-five local groups spread all across the world – mostly in the US, but we have two or three in Europe, too. Nothing in Munich yet, but who knows…! We are noticing the percentage of female speakers at conferences on the rise too – we counted 35% in 2018, up from 25% in the years 2013, ’14 and ‘15, for example.

Aside from seeding local communities, we also work to launch new voices in the community, and we are available for what we call ‘conference allyship’ with meetings such as this one. By inviting one of us as a speaker, or just by asking us to attend, those meetings send out a message.”


Diversity is strength

“We are not single-mindedly pushing for an increase of women in the Agile community – it is ultimately more diversity itself that we are after. People with disabilities, people of different ethnicities, senior professionals… But you have to start somewhere, and we started with women. Now, why push for diversity? It is pure Agile reasoning. Decisions benefit from knowledge, and knowledge benefits from viewing your information from more than one perspective.

I will be speaking about the fickle nature of diversity, too. You might think you can foster diversity, just by recruiting people from different genders or skin colours or some such, but if these apparently diverse recruits all come from a single college or university, they are again imbued with similar values, similar frames of reference.

And how do you keep your people thinking diversely? A lot of what Agile preaches is to think creatively, but as soon as people share a work place, thoughts patterns start to converge. Keeping people varied in terms of how they think is another.”


More information?

Natalie Warnert will be speaking at Agile Munich 2019 in the Ballroom track on May 9th. Theme for the conference is ‘Scaling Agile? Not without the supporting functions!’ and reservations are starting to pick up. Reserve your seat today at agilemunich.com.


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